Psychology: Work and Organizational Psychology

Understanding human behavior in the workplace

Understanding human behavior in the workplace

Work and Organizational Psychology focuses on human behavior within organizations and work situations. Why is one a leader and does the other follow? How can organizations attract competent and trustworthy employees? What are the best ways to reward employees? What are effective decision-making processes? How do organizations influence consumer behaviors? What are optimal negotiation tactics? How can organizations shape teams? What role should leaders have in that process? How can we create a healthy workplace? These are some of the questions that are central within our Work and Organizational Psychology programme.

The Master’s programme Work and Organizational Psychology prepares you for practice. During the Master you will gain insight into the individual characteristics and social processes that shape work and organizations. The courses are taught by people who have research experience and experience in the field. Not only will you be able to theorize about problems that you will encounter in organizations, you will also learn to apply these theories to everyday work-related situations.

What are the available methods with which to assess which personality traits fit within a given work environment or function? How can you properly shape and support change management within organizations? What kind of leadership fits best in today’s world? How can you measure leadership? The answers to these and related questions that you obtain during your Master’s programme are bound to have a lasting impact on your career.

The emphasis of the Master’s programme Work and Organizational Psychology lies, on the one hand, in the area of social processes in organizations such as leadership, decision making, and change processes. On the other hand, you can specialize in applied areas such as HR, (personality) assessment, and management. Because of the application-focused character of the Master’s Programme, the link between theory and practice, and the emphasis on practical experience (internship), you will have a strong position on the labor market as a Work and Organizational Psychologist.

Psychology: Work & Organizational Psychology courses in study guide.

Education is of a very high standard
The Master’s degree Psychology at VU Amsterdam is small, intensive, and well organized. You work together with other students in small groups. A lot of teachers are professionals in practice and they will take time to guide you in your learning process. As soon as you start with the programme you will be assigned a teacher as tutor to whom you can turn for study matters or personal matters.

There is a lot of attention for your future
You will have the opportunity to enroll in courses that prepare you for your work career. There is also a good network for internships within major private and public organizations in the Netherlands and beyond.

The broad approach is unique
All the Master’s degrees in the field of psychology are part of the Graduate School of the faculty. Therefore, there is a unique coherence within research, education, and academic and professional training. With the degree Psychology from VU Amsterdam there are many roads you can follow. You receive a good education in scientific research, but there is also a lot of attention for the skills that you will need in the practice of a psychologist.

Unique combination
What is especially unique about the Master’s degree Work and Organizational Psychology, is the combination of Human Resource Management and Organizational Psychology. The degree is not only scientific but also highly applicable: you will get the opportunity to analyze problems in organizations based on scientific research, yet there is also a lot of attention for practice-focused skills such as leadership and negotiation.

As a Master of Science in Psychology you will quickly find a suitable job. You can work in social aid, in hospitals, mental health institutions, or nursing homes. But you can also end up in the corporate world, for example as Human Resource Manager or Organizational consultant. Depending on the programme you choose, you will find a suitable job as psychologist. Check out your career perspectives with the Master programme you choose.

Are you not finished learning yet after your Master’s degree? After that you can apply to various postdoctoral degrees that educate you to become a health psychologist, clinical psychologist, I/O psychologist or psychotherapist, for example.


The research activities of the Organizational Psychology group are bundled together in the LeadershipLab. The LeadershipLab is part of the Institute for Brain and Behavior Amsterdam (IBBA). As a Master’s student you will profit from the expertise and knowledge present within the group and have the opportunity to make a contribution yourself to research and practice during your research for the Master’s thesis. The group is of high international standing and cooperates with a variety of departments and institutions within VU Amsterdam (such as the School of Business and Economics, the NSCR, and the Zijlstra Centre), and with lots of international universities (such as Oxford, Singapore, UCLA, Michigan State, Queensland, UWA). Also, the department has good contacts with major public and private organizations in the Netherlands, in Europe, and beyond.

Leadership, personality, and team dynamics are themes that are central to our departmental research programme. What role do empathy, personality, and leadership play in social interaction? How do people deal with injustices? What must a leader do to optimally motivate people to step up for the group? Which skills should you possess to stay in control of your feelings, and can self-control be accomplished through training? When do we trust others? Are there biological and genetic influences that foster trust and cooperation between people? Read more about these and related questions using the link below.

The Organizational Psychology Research Programme

Yvette Burger

Student Work and Organizational Psychology

Yvette Burger student

“Psychology is a very fun, educational, and versatile study, and even though the study is quite broad, it is definitely not shallow. I follow the programme Work and Organizational Psychology because the combination of people and companies really speaks to me. The knowledge that you gain from this degree is very applicable and useful in your own daily life. In short: a study programme that will never go to waste!"

Overview Psychology: Work and Organizational Psychology




1 year



15 July for Dutch students and EU/EEA students with an international degree who do not need housing services through Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 1 April for Non-EU/EEA students.


1 September




Behavioural and Social Sciences

Dutch students

Depending on your prior education different rules apply for admission requirements, deadlines and the application procedure for the master’s program Psychology: Work and Organizational Psychology. September 1st is the only possible date to start with the Master’s. Enrollment in February is not possible.

Already in possession of a Master’s diploma?
Beware! The costs of a second Master’s degree are not equal to the costs of a first Master’s degree. The enrolment procedure is similar to enrolment with a VU bachelor, a bachelor from a different Dutch University or with an HBO diploma. (follow the links above).

More information about the tariffs of a second degree.


Students who have obtained a VU bachelor Psychology with a minor in Social and Organization Psychology (minor S&O) can enroll directly into the Master’s program Psychology: Work and Organizational Psychology. Psychology students with a different minor can enroll if they meet the following requirements:

  • A sufficient grade for M&D3: Individual and Organizational Diagnosis (6 ECTS) or an equivalent course (to be assessed by the Admission Board).
  • One of the three following courses: Human Resource Management, Management and Organization, or Human Resource Development, or an equivalent course (to be assessed by the Admission Board).

Requirements with a different VU bachelor

With a VU bachelor in (International) Business Administration (Bedrijfskunde),  Public Administration and Organization Science (Bestuurs- en Organisatiewetenschappen), Communication and Information Science (Communicatie- en Informatiewetenschappen) or  Communication Science (Communicatiewetenschap) students can enroll in the Master’s program Psychology: Work and Organizational Psychology if they meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 24 ECTS of completed Psychology courses, consisting of:

o   Introduction to Psychology (6 ECTS)

o   An (introductory) course ‘Work & Organizational Psychology (6 ECTS) (or an equivalent course to be assessed by the Admission Board).

o   One of the following more specialized courses: Human Resource Management, Management and Organization, Human Resource Development, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development (or an equivalent course to be assessed by the Admission Board).

o   One extra psychology course, such as personality, social, clinical, developmental, or cognitive psychology.

  • A minimum of 18 ECTS of completed Quantitative methods courses, consisting of:

o   Statistics (6 ECTS)

o   Research methods (6 ECTS)

o   A sufficient grade for M&D3: Individual and Organizational Diagnosis (6 ECTS), or a different more specialized quantitative methods course (e.g., psychometrics, multivariate statistics, multiple regression, or structural equation modelling) (6 EC) (to be assessed by the Admission Board).

How to submit an admissions request?
Students have to enroll in Studielink for the Master’s in Psychology. Enrollment does not carry any obligations and can be cancelled free of charge until September 1st. After the enrollment students receive log-in codes to log into VUnet. In VUnet students choose the specialization ‘Work and Organizational Psychology.’

With the application in VUnet students are required to upload the following documents as a ‘Diploma’:

  • Formulier 'Verzoek toelating' (availabe from October 1st, 2019)
  • Copy of Transcript of records. If you do not have a definite list of grades, you can add a provisional list of grades.   Deadlines:

31st July at the latest, your application has to be completed on Studielink and VUnet. You can find more information on VUnet. However, it is advised that you complete your application by the 31s